Maybe you’ve got some pretty good booze in your home bar, but if you’ve been looking to take your DIY cocktail game to the next level, you’ll want to check out the cocktail kits at Merchants of Beverage. The wine and spirits retail site—which also sells barware and ice cube molds—launched last fall with cocktail gift sets created by your favorite bartenders even beyond L.A. Think: Bar Keeper gift baskets but for all your favorite cocktail-loving cities, including kits for Dead Rabbit NYC’s Irish Whiskey Old Fashioned or, say, ABV San Francisco’s The Quicksand. (If you want to go all out for #NegroniWeek, there’s the ultimate $500 gift pack.)
“We wanted to tell the tale of the cities, not just through the cocktails and bars but the distilleries and wineries in those areas,” says MoB founder Jeffrey Meisel.
This service is the next natural progression in cocktail enthusiasm. In a time when so many are already experimenting with cocktail recipe books, homemade ingredients, and even public home bars, you can now re-create your favorite bar at home.
Merchants of Beverage is for those who already know their way around a jigger and Hawthorne strainer— they’ll set you up with the spirit components for your favorite cocktail, a cocktail recipe card, and the back story of said cocktail. But the chosen cocktails, hand-picked by the Merchants of Beverage team, are pretty straightforward and won’t require anything that you don’t already have at home (unless you’re out of oranges for that garnish). The retailer didn’t want cocktails that required people go out and buy a lot of extra modifiers as instant gratification is the goal.
So far you can order favorite cocktails from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles—a line of L.A. kits for Cinco, Harlowe, Harvard & Stone, and The Varnish just launched this week! Next up is Chicago and Portland while Miami, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. are soon to follow. It’s definitely the perfect gift for the displaced cocktail geek who misses their hometown or for those who want the ultimate souvenir from their favorite city. The prices range from The Varnish’s $65 Smuggler’s Notch to the $200 Ultimate Manhattan complete with ice molds and barware. L.A. bar fans will want to check out Harvard and Stone’s Gold Fashioned or Harlowe’s Cobbler, which bartender Chris Amirault shared to spread the joys of sherry.
The featured cocktails will be updated regularly and will include classics, modern classics available on existing menus, or those about to debut. And the prices are competitive with your average liquor store, plus shipping is included. Bonus is that a portion of the proceeds from each kit will go to the bartender’s charity of choice.
If you’re looking to customize your own kit or sign up for a subscription program, you’re out of luck at the moment, but Meisel says that a cocktail customization capability may become available in the fall of 2015 or 2016.
As for subscription clubs, Meisel says, “We also see a potential for clubs but we want to make sure we have a baseline. Imagine if you got a cocktail kit from a different bar every month. That’s what we’re working on right now.”
Currently, they are also taking suggestions, so simply contact the concierge service with any requests.
For a sneak peek, here’s the recipe for Harvard & Stone’s Gold Fashioned:
by Yael Vengroff, formerly of Harvard & Stone
1 1/2 oz. Elijah Craig
1/2 oz Smith & Cross
1/4 oz. Giffard Banane
2 dashes Bittermen’s Mole Bitters
Directions: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a double Old-Fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange peel.